Johanna Maria Martinez Palacios
Generously Sponsored By: Red Boat Fish Sauce
Age, at time of Internship: 15
CT Intern: Summer 2022
Restaurant Host: alaMar, Chef Juan
Wraparound Program: OUSD
Intern Story: Johanna’s passion for cooking started with helping their grandmother bake and decorate wedding cakes. This combination of food, art, and love helped Johanna overcome the loss of their father. It helped Johanna stay strong when they faced bullying at school.
Johanna was so inspired by the work and the feeling of accomplishment, they started working at a pastry shop. The work was so fulfilling that Johanna applied to Sprouts’ Chef Training Program to formalize their training and pursue a long-term career in the culinary arts.
Both Johanna and their alaMar chef mentor are excited to see where Johanna’s passion and talent will lead them.
“The main reason I chose this internship was not only my passion for cooking but because of my mother. My mother passed away in January and while she struggled with addiction, which had made her give up on practically everything, the one thing she never stopped caring about was opening her own restaurant someday…working in the Chopbar and building bonds with everyone in that kitchen over the last month has made me feel closer to my mom than I ever have.”
“I am proud to be a cook. I’m proud to have a job that pays medical and dental for my family. I’m proud to pay for my daughter’s Montessori school and school supplies, for our home. I’m proud every time I see my food sent out to a guest – or get a compliment from a diner. I’m proud to know my craft so well, to satisfy human’s most basic needs… I wanted to thank all of you for giving others the same chance I had to dedicate my life to something noble.”
“I remember after my first shift and the talk I had with Chef Thomas. In my opinion, I feel I learned more about both food and life lessons. I honestly feel that my favorite part of this program was just being able to be surrounded by supportive people who actually cared. ”
“Chef Spike along with everyone else in PlayT were very kind and accepting, teaching me that a kitchen environment is like a family.”
“Each day I learned new things that would only help me grow as a chef, as a person. Pican and Sprouts has made my life open to many different opportunities.”
“Sprouts helped me get into the restaurant industry. At my internships, I started by being the pasta extruder all the way up to the hot line. I worked with lots of great people whom are still friends today. I wouldn’t be the chef I am today without them.”
“I was 8 years old and I was stealing cars with my friends, seeing a lot of things I shouldn’t have been seeing at my age. I really needed somebody to believe in me because this was really my only way out. I’m a young black male, and I’m trying to make it. I’ve been through a lot…and I’m trying to make it right.”